Author and Poet Clarissa Thomasson will be speaking at the Green Street Church in Englewood as the Lemon Bay Historical Society again opens this historic building to the public. Due to the COVID Delta variant masks will be required.
Thomasson will showcase her book Surviving Sarasota which highlights the lives of Sarasota County’s first American settlers from 1851 – 1865 as they endure the Third Seminole War, the American Civil War, and its aftermath. She has also written a poem for Sarasota County’s Centennial which can be viewed HERE.
Her first two novels, Defending Hillsborough and Reconstructing Hillsborough were chosen by the North Carolina Association of Public School Librarians for use in the high school study of the Civil War. Lorinda’s Legacy was “pick of the month” at Greensboro, NC Barnes and Noble.
In 2000, Thomasson returned to Florida and now resides in Venice, FL. where she has written five children’s books in her Little Green Monkey series, four novels: Florida Shadows, Florida Secrets, Florida Sunset and Surviving Sarasota set in Southwest Florida, a World War II novel—Over the Bridge—and Venice Dreamers, which highlights Venice’s original settlers.
Thomasson’s stage plays, Over the Bridge and Florida Shadows, each won first place in the Clarence “Bud” Jones Playwriting Competition at the Firehouse Theatre in LaBelle, FL, in 2014 and 2015.
Thomasson is also a freelance writer–having written for GRAND magazine, Yesterday in Florida—where she won a 2005 Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Award for her contributions to Florida history—and Eastside Venice Neighbors—where she wrote monthly articles on Florida history. She is also a contributor for the Venice Gondolier.
The Lemon Bay Historical Society is pleased to be resuming its monthly community programs and has additional speakers lined up for October and November plus the traditional Holiday Sing-Along in December. Don’t forget your mask.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the Lemon Bay Historical Society has had to cancel its traditional monthly community programs. Fundraising events were also canceled. The Society is responsible for maintaining the historic Green Street Church building and its property.
To help fund general operating expenses, the Historical Society has received a $5000 CARES grant from Florida Humanities. These expenses include lawn mowing, water, electricity, landscaping maintenance, insurance, taxes, building upkeep, etc.
In 1985, the Lemon Bay Historical Society was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization whose mission was “for the specific purposes of perpetuating the legacy of the past and honoring the pioneer settlers of the Lemon Bay area.”
To carry out this mission the Society:
Presents programs on history, archaeology, music, wildlife, preservation of area historic buildings and opportunities to visit them, persons of historical interest and authors who write about historical events.
Publishes and sells books on local history, Englewood pioneers and local lore
Maintains the Historic Green Street Church building for community use.
THE CARES ACT
With the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on March 27, 2020 the NEH received $75 million to distribute to cultural institutions affected by the coronavirus, COVID-19
WHAT IS THE NEH?
On September 29, 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act into law. This law created the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The purpose of the NEH is to advance the humanities and its respective disciplines into the public square.
The NEH soon realized the immense challenge of its mission. To respond more effectively to local needs, the NEH decided to establish a humanities council in every state, plus six U.S. territories. Florida Humanities was established in 1973.
WHAT DOES FLORIDA HUMANITIES DO?
Florida Humanities works with local humanities organizations to accomplish its mission. This includes libraries, museums, and historical societies, among others. Like the Lemon Bay Historical Society, many of these organizations are committed to their communities and rely on volunteers and limited funding to sustain their operations.
The Lemon Bay Historical Society welcomes new members. You do not need to be a historian to join, just someone interested in preserving the history of Englewood. For information visit: https://lemonbayhistory.com/about-us/
On February 8, 2020, the 18th Annual Cracker Fair, a celebration of Old Florida, was held at Dearborn Street Plaza. Organized by the Lemon Bay Historical Society, it is our gift each year to the community. Admission is free. The Cracker Fair is the culmination of the Lemon Bay Fest, a week of celebrating Englewood’s history. The Fair is also a fund-raiser for our community programs and our mission to preserve the rich history of the Lemon Bay area.
There are food vendors, live entertainment, crafts, demonstrations, authors, artists and activities for children. In past years attendees enjoyed lemon desserts, sampled swamp cabbage, watched the Bit of Hope Ranch give a whip-cracking demo, learned how to throw a cast net and interacted with animals brought by the Peace River Wildlife Center. Become a Sponsor of the Fair to help celebrate our historic Englewood community!
The Society is a not-for-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation founded in 1985. Our purpose is to preserve Englewood area’s history and to educate the public about our past through our programs, books, and open houses. One of our latest and most successful area restoration projects was saving the Historic Green Street Church by moving it from leased land to property we own on Indiana Ave.
A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (1-800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. OUR REGISTRATION NUMBER IS CH49480. www.FloridaConsumerHelp.com.
By STEVE REILLY Staff Writer for the Englewood Sun
ENGLEWOOD — The historic Green Street Church is settled in its new location at the Lemon
Bay Cemetery on South Indiana Avenue — but that doesn’t mean the work is completed.
The Lemon Bay Historical Society still needs help before the 90-year-old historic building can
be reopened to the public. The members put together a wish list they hope donors can help fill.
“We still need help financially and in-kind help,” Historical Society president Charlie Hicks
said. “We’re at a standstill.”
The project has proven expensive, far more so than anticipated. The nonprofit Historical
Society raised $161,000 through donations and grants of which $160,000 has been spent on
After a year-long wait, in September, in the middle of the night, R.E. Johnson & Sons movers
lifted the 90-year-old church onto a trailer, tied it down securely and inched it from its
longtime location on West Green Street to the Lemon Bay Cemetery on South Indiana Avenue
(State Road 776). The 1.1-mile journey took most of the night at around 4 mph.
The church was gently set down at the southeast corner of the cemetery, its new permanent
home. In October, the steeple — which was removed before the move — was placed atop the
Since then, Leo Pfliger Construction, the Englewood contractor overseeing the project for the
Historic Society, began work on a retention pond that’s required by Sarasota County and
preparing the site for the finishing touches.
Historical Society members had hoped to reopen soon after the new year, but a lot more work
needs to be completed — such as landscaping, lighting, a parking area, handicap-accessible
ramp, and hook ups to utilities — before the county will issue its certificate of occupancy to the
The Historical Society will have access to a $50,000 grant from the Sarasota CountyEnglewood Community Redevelopment Agency. However, the grant provides reimbursement
funds the Historical Society only receives after it completes all the work and garners permit
approvals required by Sarasota County. The historic building has to have its certificate of
occupancy before the county will release the $50,000.
“We can’t plan anything,” Hicks said.
Members are continuing their fundraising efforts. The Lemon Bay Garden Club, Florida Native
Plant Society and the Master Gardeners are all ready to assist with the landscaping, which is
also required by the county.
The church had been Englewood’s first house of worship and for years sat on property the
Historical Society leased from the Crosspoint Church of the Nazarene on West Green Street.
The Historical Society bought property at the cemetery so the church can have its “forever
The historic building hasn’t seen a religious service in decades, but the Historical Society
schedules weddings, memorial services, meetings and other community events at the church.
The Historical Society is now planning for a fundraiser 6 p.m. Jan. 25 at the Englewood
United Methodist Church, 700 E. Dearborn St. That happens to be the congregation that
originally built the church nine decades ago. The fundraiser will include a video highlighting
the move and a performance by John Tuff & Friends.
Historic church wish list
The nonprofit Lemon Bay Historical Society depends upon donations and hopes donors will help fulfill their
wish for the reopening historic Green Street Church:
• Changeable letter sign for front of building
• Irrigation for landscape plants; soaker hoses. Maybe an irrigation well.
• Handicap signs.
• Concrete parking bumpers.
• Sidewalks completed.
• Solar-powered parking lights.
• 11 silver buttonwood trees.
• 109 cocoplum plants.
• Two black olive trees
• 14 bags of organic mulch.
For the past seventeen years Englewood has been celebrating Old Florida with a “Cracker” Fair. This year the tradition continues. It is said the term “Cracker” comes from the cracking of the whip Florida cow hunters used to herd cattle. Florida was the first cattle producing state in America — not Texas, not Missouri – Florida. In the early 1500s Spanish conquistadors landed on the shores of Florida and attempted to colonize the area. They were thwarted and attacked by Native Americans. The colonists abandoned their quest, leaving behind horses, hogs and Andalusian cattle they had brought by ship: this was the first livestock in North America.
The Florida livestock bred and ran wild for centuries. Prior to the Civil War, a rugged brand of individual settled along Florida’s central corridor. They relied on bullwhips to flush cows out of the palmetto scrub. They used 10-to-12-foot-long whips made of braided leather. The snaps of these whips would break the sound barrier making a loud CRACK. Thus these early settlers became known as Cracker Cowmen, Cow Hunters, or Florida Crackers. They provided food for the Confederate soldiers during the Civil War and also rounded up cattle for shipment to Cuba. The Cubans loved Florida beef and paid for the cattle with gold doubloons. Today the term Cracker is used to refer to anyone who is a true native Floridian.
At this year’s Cracker Fair there will be classic country music by John Tuff and Friends, historical songwriter James Hawkins will be returning to our stage and we are looking forward to be introducing a few new artists as well. There will also be a Cracker whip demonstration, local food, a lemon dessert baking contest, kid’s games and all sorts of crafts and fun for all. Come one, come all: Saturday, February 8th from 10 to 4 at Dearborn Plaza (AKA Pioneer Park) on Dearborn Street. Admission is free.
A Litard Knot Floater
The storm was a “litard knot floater.” Mike Miller (with Florida Backroads Travel.com) quotes his friend Howard who is a Florida Cracker. A Cracker is a true Native Floridian. Mike says Crackers have a language of their own. He explains, “a ‘litard’ is a fat pine knot used like kindling to start fires. A fat pine knot is very heavy, and it takes a lot of water to make it float.”
Most Floridians say the term Cracker comes from the cracking of the whip Florida cow hunters used to herd cattle.
Physicists Alain Goriely and Tyler McMillen at the University of Arizona explain: “The crack of a whip comes from a loop traveling along the whip, gaining speed until it reaches the speed of sound and creates a sonic boom. Even though some parts of the whip travel at greater speeds, it is the loop itself that generates the sonic boom.”
For the past sixteen years Englewood has been celebrating the Crackers and Old Florida with a Cracker Fair. This year the tradition continues. We hope there will be fair skies and no “litard knot floaters!”
We are pleased to present a wonderful article about the Lemon Bay Historical Society written by Jana Susan Paley for the Facebook group “Sarasota History & SRQ Quiz.”
Those of us interested in the preservation of the cultural heritage of the entire Gulf Coast will be pleased to learn that residents of the southern portions of Sarasota County are just as active in banding together to guard area history as the people of Tampa Bay, Manatee County, and the City of Sarasota. Almost 35 years ago, a concerned group of citizens in Lemon Bay organized what we now know as the Lemon Bay Historical Society.
Sixty years ago, the people of Englewood started a Labor Day tradition known as Pioneer Days, a celebration which has grown into one of the best attended end-of-summer events in the state. During the 1983 Pioneer Days Celebration which honored Englewood’s first newspaper editor, Josephine Cortes who was also the founder of the annual festival, a group of Lemon Bay residents, many of whom were area natives, decided it was time for their community which surrounds the long and narrow 8,000 acre body of water known today as the Lemon Bay Aquatic Preserve to preserve its distinct heritage.
The Lemon Bay Historical Society (Society) is a two county effort–Lemon Bay stretches from Sarasota County into Charlotte County. Concerned residents held the first organizational meeting of the Lemon Bay Historical Society in May of 1984 and they readied for a kick-off party at the following Pioneer Days Celebration. The group’s inaugural consisted of a mullet roast for 150 people. Making the event particularly special was that the mullet was freshly caught by founding members of the group, the Platt family and Bill Davis, while Bob Cashatt foraged swamp cabbage which was prepared using the famous recipe of Eula Davis, Bill’s mother. Next time we have a Local Recipe’s Week, we will be calling the Lemon Bay Historical Society so we all can learn a proper mullet roasting technique as well as Eula’s method for cooking swamp cabbage.
In 1985, the founders of the Lemon Bay Historical Society officially incorporated the group as a non-profit organization. They enunciated a clear mission–“Perpetuating the legacy of the past and honoring the pioneer settlers of the Lemon Bay area.” Turns out that master swamp cabbage forager Bob Cashatt was also a terrific graphic designer; he created the yellow, gold, and blue logo for the Society which is still in use today. The Society encourages anyone interested in preserving the heritage of the Lemon Bay area to join–membership dues are just $15 per year for a single person and $20 for a family. Members meet the last Tuesday of each month from September through April. If you are interested in joining, just go to the Society’s website and you can download a form.
Like the Englewood Area Historical Museum, the Lemon Bay Historical Society does not have a large collection of photographs, documents, or artifacts, but to make up for not having large permanent exhibits, the group is big on sponsoring experiential events. For example, in March the group hosted author, retired business owner, ship captain, and world traveler D.L. Havlin spoke at the Society. Havlin says “history is often my brick-mason for it can provide a building in which my story can live and breathe.” He spent the evening regaling the audience with his stories about life in southwest Florida.
Last February, Carol Mahler entertained the crowd with tales of Florida Crackers, Seminole Indians, and the history of the Lemon Bay area. The Society entitled her presentation “Florida Folklore with a Lemon Bay Twist” and many of her stories concentrated on traditions associated with the community. Mahler is a professional storyteller who serves as the coordinator of the Desoto County Historical Society’s Research Library and Museum which often shares common content with the Lemon Bay Historical Society. If you have never heard of Mahler, you might want to check out her “History Mystery” column in the weekly Arcadia’s weekly newspaper, Arcadian which is reprinted from time to time in Sarasota publications. Mahler also wrote a children’s book “Adventures int eh Charlotte Harbor Watershed” which is annually distributed to students in seven Gulf Coast area counties.
Residents of the Lemon Bay community also enjoy open-mike nights sponsored by the Society. During the last event, 13 people showed off their talent by performing original songs. Cash prizes were awarded for the best act and for the runner-up.
Events mainly take place at the historic Green Street Church. Thought the Society owns the white clapboard building, the land it sits on is leased and the lease must be renewed in May of 2018. Though the Society has offered to purchase the underlying property, the owner prefers to continue to lease the property. The Society members want to insure the future of the iconic building by moving it to a lot located on the south side of the Lemon Bay Cemetery. Currently, the Society is raising money for the effort. If you are interested in providing support, take a look at the Society’s website.
The Society’s biggest annual event is the Cracker Fair which takes place each February around the time of Valentine’s Day. Many Society members dress up as Florida pioneers, play music, and conduct historical activities. The most anticipated event of the Cracker Fair is the Lemon Dessert Contest which is co-sponsored by the Lemon Bay Garden Club. Lemons must be the main ingredient of the dessert and though there is some prize money for the winner, most people who enter do so to earn a year’s worth of bragging rights.
The annual event is held at Englewood’s Pioneer Park near the Elsie Quirk Library. Perhaps next year a group of us Spoonbills can support the Society by attending. By the way, you can taste the lemony treats entered in the contest by donating a buck a plate. Judging from the photos of some of the previous entries, it looks like a bargain for anyone who as a tart-tooth.
If you want to support the Society but you are not necessarily interested in becoming an active member, you might be interested in purchasing a “Move & Save the Church” tee shirt. The Society also publishes a photo essay book which shows “then & now” pictures of the area. Each year the Society updates the spiral-bound book–who knows–maybe next year this feature essay will be included in the publication.
ENGLEWOOD, Fla. – Family and friends of Nancy Jean Airey gathered Saturday afternoon (July 9, 2016) at the Green Street Church, the site of many of the stage productions of her plays, to pay tribute to Airey, a prolific writer, musician, historian, community organizer, mentor to local authors, webmaster to non-profits and friend to a number of causes which, much like she herself was to the Englewood community, near and dear to her heart.
The gathering featured those wishing to express their thoughts at the passing of a stalwart Englewood resident, in word as well as song, from the wide array of organizations and people whose lives she enriched by her lifetime of good deeds and contributions to the culture of this sleepy seaside town, including those from Englewood Pioneer Days, the Suncoast Writers Guild (together with “Englewood’s Little “Band” of Writers who performed works from one of her plays), Lemon Bay Historical Society, and Friends of the Elsie Quirk Library.
Guitarist and vocalist Linda Lou Lewis of the aforementioned Little Band described what it was like to work with Airey in mixing music into her stage plays, adding that Jean Airey was “the best collaborative partner I ever had.” Roy Ault of the Writers Guild gave a heartfelt thank you to the woman who helped him to become a published author, while Kari Burgess spoke of her adventures in acting with Jean as the director of material that she herself also authored.
Erick Phelps, coordinator of the Englewood Pioneer Days parade, of which Jean Airey was an integral part, said that one of the things about her that he will miss most was her “principled focus on what needed to be done” for the Englewood community, including events such as Pioneer Days, the organizers of which, according to Phelps, had to recruit three people to take over the work she did for the committee.
Her widower, William Airey, told yet another revealing story about his late wife, who years earlier had organized a fund raiser for the Heart Association (featuring comedian Paul Lind) at which heart surgeons from around the country gathered, and how Jean, an avid reader with an ever-present thirst for knowledge, had studied so much about heart surgery that he half expected her to someday be called upon do a little bit of surgery herself. Even while noting that his late wife would not approve of such a fuss being made over her, he thanked the gathered assembly on her behalf, and let each and everyone know that she very much appreciated what they themselves had contributed to the Englewood community she so loved.
In addition to working with the Writers Guild, Historical Society, Elsie Quirk Library, and Pioneer Days, Jean Airey has also been associated, in one capacity or another, with the annual Cracker Fair, Lemon Bay Playhouse, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and EARS, among many other groups, individuals and causes.
Jean Airey was a contributor to Englewood Edge, occasionally under her byline but most often anonymously promoting the Historical Society activities and Pioneer Days.
Dec. 20 7 PM Historic Green St. Church “Christmas Sing A Long” with The Englewood Little Band of Writers. If you play an instrument, feel free to join in and play with the Band.
Jan. 24 7 PM Historic Green St. Church Regular Meeting and Program
Feb. 11 Cracker Fair 10 AM to 4PM
Feb. 28 7 PM Historic Green St. Church Regular Meeting and Program
Mar. 28 7 PM Historic Green St. Church Regular Meeting and Program
April 25 7 PM Historic Green St. Church Regular Meeting and Program
At the November meeting, the following Directors were elected to the Board, Don Bayley; Charlie Hicks; Esther Horton and Janet Landis. Charlie and Esther have served for years and we welcome Don and Janet. Also at the November meeting, Dr. John Flowers, Englewood’s first dentist and a well-known photographer, gave a humorous recollection of his years in Englewood. The early part of his practice was mainly pulling teeth and he decided he wanted to save teeth so he educated the citizens on proper dental hygiene. Thank you, Dr. Flowers. Dentists were few and far between on the southwest coast of Florida at that time. Englewood was very lucky to have his services.
Dues are due. Please send your check for single – $15, family – $20 to LBHS, P.O. Box 1245, Englewood, FL 34295.
Come to the December meeting, join in the Sing A Long, check out our new Christmas tree, pay your dues and get in the Christmas spirit.
The OEVA Art Show was Dec. 3 & 4, 10 AM to 4PM. Thank you to all who worked at our booth. Set up and take down, Charlie Hicks, Dwayne Karsten and the Garretts. Manning the booth, Don Bayley, Janet Landis, Cathy Mrasak, Linda Schilke and Nancy Wille. The Art Show was the debut of our revised “Then and Now” book. Nancy Wille worked very hard taking pictures of scenes that had changed since the first publication in 2011 as well as reshooting some pictures that were a little fuzzy. She is a talented person as well as a great asset to the Board. The book’s debut at the Art Show almost didn’t happen. Nancy sent it to the printer and was assured it would be ready for the show. When she received the books on Wednesday before the show, they were printed incorrectly. The wrong button had been pushed at the printers. Oops! Alta Systems Inc. in Gainesville reprinted the books and overnighted them so we had them on Friday.
Check out the web site, www.lemonbayhistory.com. Don Bayley has done a great job of updating the site. There is also a link to Lemon Bay Fest, Cracker Fair vendors’ applications, Dessert Contest entries and information on the Society. Thank you Don.
Future Programs/Cracker Fair:
Esther Horton would welcome any suggestions for future programs. Cracker Fair is happening on February 11, 2017. Please put it on your calendars and volunteer to help.